Monthly Archives: April 2022

The (actual) best Batman movie – Batman: The Movie

With the recent release of “The Batman” to cinemas – and now to HBO Max – the online debate has been reignited: “Which Batman movie is best?”

Of course, there are hardcore Christian Bale / Christian Nolan fans. These movies were critically well-received and Nolan is a master of film. If you want to see a real brain-bender, his “Memento” still ranks among my personal top-5 films of all time.

The classic Tim Burton series still has a broad group of advocates, although the 90s series of Batman blockbusters definitely sees its popularity wane as Burton and Keaton exit the franchise. Still, many fans regard this era of Batman movies in high regard.

And, for those who don’t recall just how silly the Burton movies could be, I’ll just leave this here.

The one era of Batman I don’t hear in the discussion ever is the 1966 “Batman: The Movie”, starring Adam West in the lead role. While I think this movie is tragically missing from the conversation, I wanted to check in and make sure that it’s just not a case of nostalgia. After all, there are still some people who have warm feelings for George Clooney in “Batman & Robin” that I can only explain to myself as an affinity for the film because it hit them at just the right age.

Even George seems skeptical.

So, for our latest podcast, we re-watched “Batman: The Movie” with someone who came of age in the more modern age of Batman franchises.

Personally, I would say that Adam West deserves to be ranked – and to be ranked pretty darn high – among actors who have brought the Caped Crusader to life on the big screen. But, how would that hold up – watching it again with a casual comics fan of a different generation? Is there something that modern audiences will still enjoy about the Dynamic Duo?

And, most importantly, is there any “through line” connecting this Batman that’s, decidedly, from a different era to the more modern takes on the hero?

In this episode, we’ve got:

  • A recap of Batman: The Movie (1966) – the good, the bad, and the just plain silly
  • Hero hindsights – What do Adam West and Burt Ward bring to the characters of Batman and Robin, and how do they stack up in the annals of Batman movies?
  • Rogues Recap – With The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman all working to confound the heroes and take over not just Gotham, but (gasp) THE WORLD, how does this super-villain squad fare in the overall oeuvre of Batman films?
  • What are the common threads from Batman: The Movie that survived through the ages and are still present in 2022’s “The Batman”?

So join us, as we dive head-first into BATMAN: THE MOVIE!

Marvel’s Multiverse of Madness / House of M

With the premiere of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness rapidly approaching, we thought it was high-time to take a deep breath and reflect on the Marvel Multiverse – what is it, what’s led up to this point, and where might it be going?

On our latest podcast, we’re discussing –

Marvel’s What If… – A quick series overview, including which episodes are a great entry point into the series for those who have never seen it and which episodes are the absolute essentials if you’re going to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Most Important Variants in the Multiverse

By now, even Casual Marvel fans have heard of the main universe in Marvel continuity – Earth 616. But, what are the other variants that the MCU has explored already – both in television and film? And which are the ones that are key to the future of the MCU? Marvel Zombies – check!

House of M – An in-depth (grab a beverage and sit back to relax, it’s like 25 minutes) review and recap of the seminal comics event from Marvel. This Scarlet Witch centric mini-series takes place on Earth-58163 (see what we mean about the “most important variants in the multiverse”). The series from Brian Michael Bendis, originally published in 2005 introduces a multitude of storylines that will definitely influence not only the Doctor Strange film, but also Wanda’s overall arc and key role in the next Phase of the MCU. You’re going to want to know the basics of House of M and Earth-58163 to get the maximum / Maximoff from these movies!

So, settle in and join us as we dive into MARVEL’S MULTIVERSE!

Moon Knight – The Essentials

Moon Knight premiered on Disney+ last week, and it’s been a smashing success so far. I am so glad to see everyone so pumped for this long-underseen hero from the Marvel Universe. In last week’s podcast, we discussed Moon Knight’s history in comics, and we recapped the “must-haves” for the show to be a real representation of Moon Knight that fans of the comics would enjoy. A quick recap for those who don’t have the time to listen to the whole show.

The Core of Moon Knight’s History

There are five real keys to the character’s long-lasting appeal that haven’t changed since the character really took life in the seminal Moon Knight series written by Doug Moench in 1980. These are the key core character attributes and pieces of his origin and history that, while they have been intrepreted in various ways, are so critical to Moon Knight that leaving one of them out is a huge miss.

Marc Spector – Mercenary / Global Adventurer

The shortcut, but inaccurate, reference to Moon Knight is always “he’s Marvel’s Batman”. Moon Knight’s origin and background could not be further from DC’s caped crusader.

While the Moon Knight TV series introduces us to Steven Grant, it’s already given a nod to “Marc” – who is the true “secret identity” of Moon Knight that comics fans are most familiar with. In Moon Knight #1 (1980), readers are introduced to Marc Spector – a mercenary for hire working in Egypt for a brutal gang of treasure seekers led by The Bushman. While Bruce Wayne / Batman are inextricably linked to Gotham, Spector / Moon Knight are adventurers with the globe as their stalking ground.

I’m glad to see that the Disney+ series is already taking the cue from the comic with a wide-open adventure-scape that is not confined to a single city or location. Off to a good start here.

Moon Knight – Fist of Khonshu

The first Moon Knight comics I ever latched onto was the 1985 series “Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu” written by Alan Zelentz. But, Khonshu has been present in almost every Moon Knight story since the beginning – including being key to Moon Knight’s very origin.

As a mercenary, Marc Spector turned against the gang that hired him to raid treasures in Egypt. When he did so, he was left for dead in the desert – set out to wander in the hot sun until his expiration. Exhausted, Marc stumbled into an ancient Egyptian tomb, where he quite literally died.

Lying in the tomb, the Egyptian god – Khonshu – brought Marc back from the grave to serve as his spirit of vengance here on Earth. Most of Moon Knight’s supernatural abilities are tied to the moon and to his patron god, Khonshu. The downside is that Moon Knight and Khonshu don’t always see eye-to-eye and are often in conflict with one another.

Viewers should expect Khonshu – and other Egyptian gods – to play a large role in this series. When you’re hearing the deep voice in Steven’s head on the show – that’s Khonshu speaking to him (with the deeply melodious pipes of F. Murray Abraham). You’re also already seeing nods to this in the gift shop where Steven works and his statement that not all the panoply of the Egyptian gods are represented on the poster they’re looking at.

The Resurrection from the Dead

As referenced above, the key to Moon Knight’s origin is that he actually died and was brought back to life by Khonshu. This explains why Khonshu has such direct, intense mind-to-mind contact with Moon Knight/Steven/Marc, and why they are compelled to serve his will – up to a point. This component is also critical to the next item on the list.

Marc / Steven’s death and ultimate rebirth has already been referenced in an aside on the show. Early on in the first episode.

Just about five minutes into the show, Steven is talking to a young girl about Egyptian mummies and the underworld. He tells her how they would remove all the organs from the body, except for the heart, for the process. Steven explains that they left the heart because they believed that the deceased needed the heart so they could be judged in the underworld and “only the worthiest would be allowed to pass into the Field of Reeds”.

The girl’s response to him is, “And did it suck for you? Getting rejected from the Field of Reeds?”

Puzzled, Steven can only say “That doesn’t make sense, because I’m not dead, am I?”

Somehow, this little girl knows what’s up with Moon Knight and Steven’s death and resurrection.

Multiple Personalities

So what’s with all the Steven/Marc stuff that going on in the series to-date? Another Moon Knight essential is that he is a character with multiple personalities. I hope that the TV series is able to present this in a more forward-thinking way than the early comics that often referenced “split personality” or “Dissociative Identity Disorder”. As our culture’s understanding of mental health continually evolves, I think that the comics have found a way to hang onto this aspect of the character in a less, ummm… frankly a less offensive manner.

The best way it’s been explained – to my thinking – was in the 2014 series from Warren Ellis. It’s described this way. When Khonshu raised Marc from the dead, Marc’s mind was in direct contact with that of the ancient Egyptian God. Khonshu has four main aspects – Pathfinder, Embracer, Defender, and the Watcher of Overnight travelers.

As a mercenary, Marc had developed many aliases to help him do his work – the most relevant being Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Jake Lockley. As Khonshu “remade” Marc in the process of his resurrection, each of those four aspects grabbed and intensified one of Marc’s aliases, truly splitting Marc’s mind in a way that – when one of those three aliases/identities (plus, the fourth being “Moon Knight”) is engaged – the others are so far in the background that they “disappear”.

The allies of Moon Knight

In the comics, from day one, there are two constant presences in Marc / Moon Knight’s corner: Marlene and Jean Paul Duchamp (aka – “Frenchy”)

If there’s going to be a good Moon Knight series, at least one – but hopefully both of these characters will have to be enlisted to his aid. Again, we’re off to a good start here. In the phone that Steven retrieves from a hidden spot in his apartment, there are dozens of missed calls from a mystery woman named Layla. And, one missed call from “Duchamp”. This 100% has to be Jean Paul, and Moon Knight fans are excited.

Jean Paul Duchamp was a French soldier who later left to become a soldier of fortune. He’s an ace helicopter pilot and Moon Knight’s tightest associate – eventually designing a custom helicopter for Moon Knight and serving as the pilot on Moon Knight’s most critical missions.

The Next Phase of the Moon (Knight)

With those five elements in place, the Moon Knight stories can flex in almost any direction. In the most recent comics, Moon Knight is most frequently associated with the dark, supernatural side of the Marvel Universe. He serves as “Protector of those who Travel by Night” and founded the Midnight Mission to aid those who are hounded by vampires, werewolves and the like.

With the MCU starting to incorporate the supernatural elements of the books into the next phase of the movies – beginning with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – Moon Knight would easily slide into those stories. There’s already been a standalone Blade movie announced, and Marvel’s vampire hunter had a voiceover cameo in The Eternals, so there’s a strong possibility we’ll be seeing Moon Knight on the big screen in the not-too-distant future.

And with Charlie Cox’s Daredevil appearing in Spiderman: No Way Home, plus the former Netflix series moving to Disney+, can a Marvel Knights team-up on the small screen be far behind?

Members of that team included a lot of characters already introduced – besides Daredevil, the line-up consisted of Black Widow, Dagger, Moon Knight, Shang-Chi and Luke Cage. And the team was originally formed to capture – The Punisher!

Hope this list of essentials helps you all enjoy the series even more. If you’re interested in more, we recap several early, seminal issues of Moon Knight on our most recent podcast – the real Moon Knight talk starts around the 15 minute mark.

Cheers!

  • CCG